With its delicious fragrance, robust flavor, and caffeine kick, coffee is one of the most popular beverages worldwide.
However, if you’re watching your carb intake, you may wonder how much a cup of joe contributes to your daily allowance.
The short answer is: it depends. The carb content of coffee drinks ranges from zero to very high.
This article reviews whether coffee contains carbs and explains how to choose a variety that fits into a low-carb lifestyle.
Plain coffee and espresso are virtually carb-free. That includes the drink called an Americano, which is espresso plus hot water.
Black coffee and espresso contain less than 1 gram of carbs per typical serving, regardless of whether they contain caffeine.
Beverages made with only espresso and hot water, such as an Americano, will not contain carbs.
However, coffee or espresso beverages made with ingredients other than just water typically contain carbs. Milk and flavored syrups are two common sources.
Most coffeehouse beverages can be customized, and their carb contents depend on which ingredients are added to them. For example, whole milk contains more carbs than unsweetened almond milk.
Here are several popular coffee and espresso beverages and their potential carb contents:
- Café au lait (1:1 ratio of black coffee to steamed milk). Your drink will contain 6 grams of carbs if it’s made with 4 ounces (120 ml) of whole milk or just 1 gram if it’s made with unsweetened almond milk (
- Cappuccino (1:1:1 ratio of espresso to milk to milk foam). A 16-ounce (480-ml) Starbucks cappuccino made with 2% milk has 12 grams of carbs (7).
- Latte (1:3 ratio of espresso to milk). This beverage will pack more carbs, as it’s mostly milk. If you choose to add flavored syrup, such as vanilla, just 1 ounce (30 ml) can add 24 grams of carbs.
- Flat white (1:3:2 ratio of espresso to milk to milk foam). This drink contains about the same amount of milk as a latte and therefore offers a similar number of carbs.
- Mochaccino (a chocolate cappuccino). Also called a cafe mocha, this beverage is made with milk and chocolate syrup, which contain carbs. A 16-ounce (480-ml) mochaccino at Starbucks made with 2% milk contains 44 grams of carbs (8).
Many coffeehouse favorites are also topped with whipped cream. Just 6 grams (2 tablespoons) of whipped cream can add at least 1 gram of carbs to your drink (
As you can see, the carb content of coffee or espresso beverages can vary significantly.
Many popular coffeehouse beverages contain ingredients that boost their carb contents. These include milk, whipped cream, and sugar-containing flavored syrups.
If you’re on a low-carb diet, you might wonder whether you can still indulge in certain coffee drinks.
Most low-carb diets suggest limiting your carb intake to less than 130 grams per day, based on a 2,000-calorie diet (
Even if you’re adhering to this limit, you can still fit in an occasional coffeehouse favorite by following some of the following tips:
- Downsize. Order your drink with less milk, or order a smaller size.
- Skip carb-rich extras. Order it without whipped cream or flavored syrups.
- Opt for sugar-free. Order flavored drinks with sugar-free syrups, which contain fewer carbs than regular syrups.
- Serve yourself. Add milk to your black coffee yourself at the coffee shop so you can control exactly how much it contains.
- Try nondairy. Add unsweetened, nondairy milk to your coffee. Nondairy milks like soy, almond, cashew, hemp, or coconut contain far fewer carbs than dairy milk or sweetened nondairy milks (
You can customize coffeehouse beverages to make them low-carb-friendly. Try the above tips, including ordering a smaller size, skipping the whipped cream or syrup, or adding your own milk.
Black coffee and plain espresso contain almost no carbs, typically fewer than 1 gram in a traditional serving size. However, adding other ingredients can quickly ramp up that number.
Fortunately, whether you’re following a low-carb diet or simply watching your carb intake, you can still enjoy that delicious latte, cappuccino, or mocha.
Just ask your barista to make a few simple adjustments.